Moving to Brooklyn

I am moving to Brooklyn. This doesn’t sound like a big deal to people who don’t live in New York City. One of my friends who doesn’t live in New York City was silent for a long time after I delivered the dramatic news. Then she said, “Isn’t that, like, a mile away?”

“It’s Brooklyn,” I said pointedly. “It’s like this different world.”

It feels like a different world to me. When you see Manhattan from a distance, it’s this dense, pricky, gorgeous anemone, erupting skyward in glinting spines and glittering slabs of glass. Brooklyn, from a distance, is spread out. You can’t see where it ends. You can’t see all of its beginnings. There’s a certain potential in it that Manhattan doesn’t have but substitutes with intensity.

(looking towards Manhattan)

(looking towards Brooklyn)


I decided to move the Brooklyn the way I make all my big decisions: instantaneously.

I’m still waiting for this to catch up with me.

“I want to move,” I told Bear.

Not because of the Upper West Side or the apartment. I love them both.

“Why are you moving?” everyone keeps asking.

“It’s a bad reason,” I begin. I feel like I need a disclaimer.

Because the reason is that I decided to move. And the reason that I decided to move is that I am young. Which even young people often don’t think is a good enough reason.

“Moving is so stressful,” everyone always says. “If I  never had to move again, I wouldn’t.”

But I like moving.  I love the anticipation. I love the shifting into a slightly different world. I love being forced to finally give away the skirt I’ve been saving for ten years, just in case.

Bear and I hauled bags and bags down to the Salvation Army and Housing Works. Walking home was so much lighter. It felt right.

Originally, I wanted to move downtown. I hadn’t even thought of Brooklyn. Yes, I’m one of those people. The people for whom Brooklyn is another country, with strange customs I don’t care to learn. At least, I was. My Brooklyn friends would come to Manhattan to visit me. Why would I go there?

And then a friend, visiting from Israel, listened to me talking about moving and complaining about how  incredibly  expensive every single apartment I’d looked at was, and she said, “Go to Brooklyn,” in such an authoritative, clear-minded way that I suddenly thought, “Well, yeah.” Sometimes you just need to be told what to do.

The next day I set up an appointment to see my first Brooklyn apartment. The day after that, I brought Bear back to it. We sat down to talk over pizza and (in his case) salad. There was another couple right after us, scheduled to see the place in an hour. We were the first to see it. And an apartment like that (or like plenty of other things) goes in one-to-two showings, according to, well, New York (and the agent). We had an hour to make our decision.

“Let’s have an adventure,” I said.

“OK,” he said. “Let’s.”

And suddenly we were filling out forms.  And suddenly we were going to move to Brooklyn.

“I feel like we might be Brooklyn people anyway,” I said, on the F train heading back to Manhattan.

“I’ve been saying that for a while,” he said.

“I mean, not the Brooklyn people who wear the incredibly skinny jeans and know the names of every modern philosopher so they can get all dismissive when someone mentions one of them.”

“Not the hipsters, no.”

We were a little in shock.

That was a few weeks ago. As you’ve probably noticed, I couldn’t even bring myself to write about it. I think I’ve been a little in denial and a little embarrassed. I feel like I don’t have a really good explanation for doing this.

It’s just that I don’t want to get stuck. And I want to keep learning about new places. And sometimes New York City begins to feel a little like a room with no doors. Why would you need one? Why would you ever need to leave?

I don’t want to leave, but I want to explore.

(the Statue of Liberty, seen from the Brooklyn side of the water)

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I  love my new dress from Housing Works that is actually a nightgown.

 

35 Comments »

Kate on July 18th 2011 in life, new york

35 Responses to “Moving to Brooklyn”

  1. Jess responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Disclaimer: You’re not leaving New York City. Brooklyn hasn’t been its own town since the 1800s. As an outer borough native, it kind of irks me when people don’t think (or worse, *tell me*, which you of course didn’t) that the outer boroughs are not New York City. Its just not Manhattan.

    As the above may have tipped you, I adore outer borough living myself, and cannot possibly fathom living in Manhattan in the first place. It moves so fast! It’s for working and playing and magic! Not lazy Sundays with eggs and bacon and Doctor Who. I like the separation. But when I moved to Brooklyn from my parents’ home in the Bronx last month, I too felt like some kind of traitor. Brooklyn has been on such a fashionable rise in the past 7 years (and trust me, before that, it was NOT pretty or desirable. That’s why the hipsters could afford the burned out warehouse spaces.) and suddenly friends I knew for years were looking at me funny. Had I not begun going to school in Brooklyn and fallen in love with a gentleman who lived there, I would NEVER have thought of living there. It was embarassingly hip, and still had memories of high school, when my parents would worry about my safety in such a borough. But I also fell in love with a neighborhood (an unfashionable one!) and a convenient location: for the first time, I could walk to a subway in under ten minutes and take less than an hour to get to useful things. And friends. And families and dogs and older men nodding polite hellos to me as I walk home after work, like I feel they used to in a gentler time. THIS is what living in Brooklyn has meant to me so far.

    That was a really really longwinded way of saying: I hear ya sister. We have our reasons, and they are good.

  2. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    @Jess
    Nope, definitely still NYC :-)
    I love this comment, and I love how you felt a little silly for moving somewhere so hip.
    Living in Manhattan, I don’t perceive Brooklyn as particularly hip, even though I know the cool artsy young people are there. Moving to Brooklyn feels a little like downgrading, to be perfectly honest. I KNOW this is ridiculous, because obviously it’s upgrading in terms of space and affordability and quality of life. But Manhattan sometimes feels like this big insiders club, where anything but is most certainly less than. Does that make sense?
    Anyway, I guess I just don’t need to be a part of that club :-)

  3. Hunter4086 responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    “The more you reason the less you create.” Raymond Chandler said that and he was hard-boiled so I am inclined to assign his opinion some value.
    Roam around, have an adventure! Think of all the places in Brooklyn you don’t know about yet, but are going to love.

  4. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    @Hunter
    And I really can’t wait to learn about them!
    Nice quote :)

  5. Jess responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    @Kate
    I know that club. They’re stinky.

    I greatly dislike being associated with a place that is overly artsy and young and cutting edge when all I want to do is live my life and not go broke or waste time doing it. But I’m doing that! And happily. And so shall you. And the borough DOES have some fabulous food that I will help you to eat.

    My home should not be a statement. And it’s not.

  6. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    @Jess
    That last line=perfect.

    Please, please, please help me eat some fabulous food! Yay!

  7. Diana responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ll visit you in Brooklyn! Can’t wait for the house-warming. (Is that presumptuous?)

  8. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    @Diana
    Are you kidding? You’re totally invited.

  9. San D responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Yeah! Brooklyn. Not only was I born there, but they have a great puppet community, as well as art labs, and theater, music etc. New York is ALL about communities and neighborhoods, food, culture and characters. Wait until you live there, forgetaboutit!

  10. Bethany responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Dude, we have moved like 9 times in ten years. I’m talking Massachusetts to Hawaii to New Mexico back to Massachusetts, like 5 minutes in Florida (hated Florida) and then back to New Mexico, etc. We even lived in an Airstream trailer for 3 years straight so we could just roll around the country at will. I can’t stop moving. That’s the danger of letting yourself do it…. it breaks habits, you get rid of old stuff and find new stuff, meet new people and try on a new suit of “you” on in each new place. Congrats on your decision… Brooklyn!!!

  11. Sari responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Um, yes, you’re Brooklyn people. I mean, I haven’t even met Bear, but… I’m pretty confident about this. I think about that post about the recent work dinner, and I can’t help but think those sorts of feelings would invade daily life in TriBeCa, say, far more than in Brooklyn. Get ready to exhale!
    Besides… there’s a pirate-ship playground right on the water in DUMBO. It’s pretty awesome.
    I’ll owe you a belated housewarming gift from some faraway land. ;-)

  12. Danielle responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Good on you for being brave! I feel like this is a perfectly good reason. Life is meant to be a series of small adventures and if we get too settled in our lives everything becomes mundane. Sometimes we need to shake things up to awake the butterflies in the stomach!

  13. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    @Bethany
    Oh my god. I’m really jealous. That sounds incredible. How were you brave enough?

  14. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    @Sari
    I saw the pirate ship!! I was so excited!
    And thanks for being the one to give me the push :)

  15. Mandy responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Wanting to have an adventure is a perfectly valid reason for doing something new, or changing things up.

    Sometimes, ya just gotta dance!

  16. Lynn responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Go for it!!! I’m an Upstate, NY girl, born and raised, but ever since I was a kid, I wanted to live in Brooklyn. Not Manhattan, not Queens, but Broolyn. I have no explanation for this. Perhaps I lived there in a past life and my soul is lonely for it…someday I’ll get there :) Best of Luck with your move!!!

  17. Lynn responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    *Brooklyn

  18. Kevin responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Even though you can’t see the end of Brooklyn, don’t think it isn’t there. To me, where the city ends is its most beautiful part.

  19. bethany actually responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    My husband is in the Navy, so we move about every two years on average. It has its annoyances, sure; but it’s amazing getting to live so many new places! I love that after 15 years of moving around the U.S., such a wide variety of places (Midwestern plains, desert, mountains, California beach, Chesapeake Bay, the South with its leisurely pace, the Northeast with its never-stopping briskness, big cities, small towns) feels like HOME to me. I love that I’ve learned to find things I like about every place I live.

    Also, the first time I visited New York, the only place I went was Brooklyn. I was on a road trip to Maine with a friend, and we stopped in Brooklyn to visit a friend of my friend’s. She lived in a brownstone that belonged to her grandpa. When we arrived at 8pm she, a 3rd-generation Italian-American, said, “Here, let me give you some wine. Are you hungry? I’ll make pasta.” And she went to the tiny backyard garden to gather mint, and then we went to the Russian grocery on the corner and bought parmiggiano, and she made us pasta with walnut-mint pesto. In the morning she left us directions to how to use her grandpa’s ancient coffee percolator, and a map to the nearby bagel shop. I didn’t see a single monument or busy Manhattan street, but I felt like I’d had a really authentic New York experience just the same. I will forever have affection for Brooklyn because of that first visit.

  20. Kate responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    @Bethany actually
    What a fantastic Brooklyn story. It made me hungry.

    I knew an air-force family growing up, and the kids became fluent in other languages when they moved to various places around the world. They have friends everywhere.

  21. MarieElizabeth responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I think your reason is a good one, you made a choice to live a different life and learn new things. It sure beats “because we have to move” as an answer.

  22. claire responded on 18 Jul 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    I am so happy that I have lived this amount of time to be able to see you enjoy the place where I had the good fortune to grow up. I have many little stories that are now coming back to me and as a matter of fact they are about the heart of the people, and the warmth that they pass on to their siblings. I also worked in Bklyn for some time and that was an adventure as well. In fact now that I dig a little deeper, my handsome husband and I, were married in a small Temple in that Boro, with all my heart and soul, I wish you and Bear, fun, health, and much happiness. CRF

  23. oregano responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 1:55 am #

    stay in manhattan! please! We don’t want you.

  24. melle responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 10:00 am #

    hmm I don’t know anything about the dynamics of NYC, but I live in one of those “icky suburbs” around vancouver… probably the “worst” one. I don’t know exactly why we have a reputation at all. I imagine it is one based on racism.

    But I know what you mean about those bad choices. I’ve lived in a dilapidated DIY basement suite with broken doors and windows and backwards wiring just because I thought it would make a funny story.

    Well it certainly did that! lol. It was a terrible experience, we had about $700 practically stolen from us and slept with a machete next to the door in case the crackhead upstairs got mad. But you know, I don’t really regret it. it’s just another piece of the puzzle that led us to sweet things that I can certainly appreciate more now. :D

  25. Kate responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 11:03 am #

    @Claire
    Thanks, Grandma! :) I can’t wait to see all your old stomping grounds!

  26. Kate responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 11:06 am #

    @oregano
    Mean comments rarely have link back.
    And really? A troll on Eat the Damn Cake? Kind of cute. And kind of fitting that it would be named “oregano.”

  27. Lauren responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    I have to admit, I felt that way when I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan the first time. And then I lived in Brooklyn for three years and so absolutely adored it that I never wanted to leave. I was the Brooklyn friend! I knew all the cool places to go in Brooklyn! I could wear, like, completely different styles of clothes from all my friends and they’d say “oh she’s just the alternative one in our group. She’s from Brooklyn, ya know.” I felt so very Miranda from Sex and the City, except that weird fem-mullet phase that she went through.

    And so, after I gave up my apartment in Williamsburg to go traveling for a few months and couldn’t find a THING in my price range when I returned to New York (Brooklyn’s expensive yo’!), moved back into Manhattan. And now I feel plain. And boring. And just like everyone else. I’m no longer “the alternative friend.” I no longer get asked where the cool places to go in Brooklyn are.

    I went to a barbeque in Brooklyn Heights last week and quite literally cried on the way home because I felt like I was going back to being just another Manhattanite.

    It’s not so bad, I promise. It’s actually pretty unbelievable.

  28. Marie Coons responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    just make sure you update your passport before moving…and get all your shots too.

  29. Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    We are moving to Brooklyn too… I think it *will* be an adventure.

  30. Kate responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    @Maggie
    No way! Which part?

  31. Virginia responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    @ San D A “great puppet community”? This is why people hate Brooklyn.

    Must be nice to be able to move impulsively in NYC bc it’s an adventure. I’m just thinking about scraping up 1st + last + broker’s fee + movers.

    For everybody who is bitching about Bklyn being too hip, yawn. “Hip” people elevate a neighborhood. The food is better (I’m talking both restaurants and the tempeh selection in your bodega), the stores are better, haircuts are better, etc. It’s fun to live in a hip neighborhood, you guys.

  32. Kate responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    @Virginia
    Yes, it’s incredibly nice to be able to move impulsively. And people do it plenty of the time, even when they are short on funds. No need to be angry about it.

    But actually, it was this reaction that made me nervous about sharing stuff about my move.

  33. San D responded on 19 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    @Virginia
    Sorry just got back from the National Puppet Festival and am still in that “mode”. Forgot that people think Puppets are just for kids. They’re not.

  34. Zan responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 9:09 am #

    I just found your blog via APW and… Brooklyn! We are neighbors!

    Also, fabulous writing, I love it. :)

  35. Eat the Damn Cake » just when it started to feel like home we have to leave responded on 01 May 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    [...] the lease, we’d chosen the one-year option. We regretted it almost immediately. At the time, we didn’t know the area very well, and we felt like we were taking a risk. So we didn’t want to lock ourselves in. And then we [...]

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